DODGE CITY, Kan. – There’s not much Andy Burelle won’t do in order to entertain a crowd.
He spent most of his rodeo career as a bullfighter, a man willing to throw his body into harm’s way in order to keep everyone around him safe. He’s won numerous freestyle bullfighting world championships and has been called one of the best most of his career.
Now 40 years old, Burelle has kept the greasepaint but changed posts inside the arena. He will be the clown/entertainer at this year’s Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2-Sunday, Aug. 6, at Roundup Arena.
“Clowning was something I thought would be fun to try,” he said. “I was hanging out in Cody (Wyo.), and I thought I’d do some clowning at the Cody Night Rodeo. I found out it was much harder than anything I’d ever imagined, and I liked the challenge of it.”
By accepting that challenge, Burelle has taken a new alter-ego. But his experience as a bullfighter has been a big help to him in his existing role.
“I think the biggest thing in my 15 years in ProRodeo is sitting in on the production meetings and realizing how many moving parts there are and how to fit them all in,” Burelle said. “You get a feel for how it needs to go.”
That’s a major part of every part of the rodeo performance. There will be highs and lows, and it is the entertainer’s job to make sure each transition is seamless. Burelle will work closely with announcer Boyd Polhamus to keep the rodeo fans on the edges of their seats and enjoying the experience.
As a bullfighter, he’s worked many of the biggest events in the world, but he’s never been to Dodge City Roundup until this year.
“It makes me a little nervous, but it’s a big stage to be on,” he said. “I’ve worked rodeos from Calgary (Alberta) to Salinas, California, and I’ve been to some of the biggest rodeos in the world fighting bulls. This is probably the biggest thing I’ve done with a microphone on.”
It’s a big step for Burelle, but the Roundup committee is excited to have him.
“We are pretty happy to have Andy coming to Dodge City Roundup this year,” said Dr. R.C. Trotter, president of the volunteer committee that produces the annual event. “Andy has done a lot of amazing things in his rodeo career, and I think our crowd in Dodge City is really going to like what he does.
“He adds a new dimension, and with his experience as a bullfighter, he has the tools to reach our audience.”
In addition to a host of acts he’ll perform at Roundup Arena, Burelle has studied improvisational comedy and understands how important physical comedy is to a clown.
“I think physicality is my best attribute,” he said. “I’m still young enough to be able to do things. Being funny is something I’ve had to work with. I’ve had to learn to make fun of myself.”
It’s working, and he is excited for what he can bring to the fans in western Kansas.